Safety Taylor Barton Sold On New UI Staff

The new Fighting Illini football coaches are working feverishly to corral a quality group of new recruits for the February 1 signing date. They are getting a late start, making their jobs doubly difficult. Among other things, they are trying to hold onto players committed to the previous coaching staff. Floridian Taylor Barton is one of those, and he is sold on the new staff.

Illinois safety commit Taylor Barton came all the way from Orlando, Florida, to visit Illinois this weekend. He shared his thoughts on his visit.

"When we first got there, we had a meeting where the coaches introduced themselves and stuff, so we got to meet the new staff. After dinner we went and met the players and then went to the hotel where all the players visiting were staying.

"On Saturday, we had a full day of seeing the facilities and tours, getting to hang with my position coach, and meeting some of the players. On Sunday we woke up, had breakfast, and then everybody had to leave."

Although this was not Barton's first visit to Illinois, it served an important purpose. He was pleased how it played out.

"I've been there before, so I've seen the school and all those things before and knew it was pretty nice. But, it was nice to see it during winter. Getting to meet the new coaching staff was the main part of my visit. They all seem pretty cool and are still interested in me.

"They had all the new coaching staff there except the defensive guy, who just got announced, so I didn't get to meet him. I'm hoping I'll get to meet him sometime soon. But as for the new coaches, they all seemed pretty cool."

Barton will play safety at Illinois, but he spent most of his time with offensive players. He enjoyed the time he spent with his future teammates.

"I was around quarterback Nathan Sheelhaase, a few of the lineman, and some of the tight ends. There was a pretty good atmosphere, which is pretty cool since they just brought in new coaches. You could feel the family atmosphere. All the guys get along great, and you can tell things are working out great."

Barton committed to Illinois while Ron Zook was head coach but had no intentions of changing his mind when Zook was fired. However, he was anxious to see what head coach Tim Beckman and his new staff had to say. After several conversations with Beckman and secondary coach Steve Clinkscale on the phone and during the weekend visit, Barton is impressed.

"When I was being recruited by coach Beckman at first, I was a little worried. With the new staff I didn't know what to expect, but they talked to me and I learned a lot. Coach Beckman was the first to greet me when I got there, and everyone treated me like family. So I feel like the whole team is going to be really close. I think we are all going to be one, big family.

"As for the secondary coach, when I met and hung out with him, I thought he was a pretty cool guy and pretty funny. I got along with him pretty well. And I think the defensive coordinator may come down to visit me sometime in the next couple weeks. I can see what he's like then."

Barton thinks the 2012 Illinois team has potential despite a transformed coaching staff.

"The coaching staff has things pretty organized right now, as you can tell by the environment they have. They have a plan of what they are going to do, and they want to win. I think as long we set our minds to it, we can be pretty good."

Barton will not be an early enrollee, but he still plans to get ahead of the game, both on and off the field.

"During the summer, I'll get up there and get ahead in school by taking a couple summer classes. And I'll also be up there for summer practices and getting my workouts in, getting ready for my freshman year and hopefully work for some playing time. So I'll come in during the summer and get myself settled in for the fall."

Barton has set goals for himself whether he plays or redshirts his first season.

"If I don't redshirt, my goal will be to get some playing time as a true freshman. If I do redshirt, my goal will be to get myself ready for the next season when I do get some playing time."

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